Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Is there ever a 'right' time to have a kid?

Almost a year ago the papers were bitching women out for waiting around too long for Mr Right and thus were having babies far too late for their liking. Now they are angsting that women are having babies too early.

Which leads me to ask an important question, is there ever a 'right' time to have a kid? Ideally a couple should be a position where they are financially and more importantly emotionally able to support their family. However that it is where my judgement stops. I don't care if a woman is 16 or 45, it is her decision when she feels she is ready to have children.

More importantly where the hell is the analysis of the fathers age in all of this? Oh that's right, I forgot babies are made by magic pixies so we don't bother to collect stats on that.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well biologically women are possibly set up to have their 20s as their best baby having time. I don;t hink there is ever a 'perfect time' though. I had my first baby at 33 and wished I'd started earlier because maybe I would have coped with the tiredness better. Also I know people who've had babies in their early 20s, who now in their 40s are having a great time now the kids have left home.

earlgreyrooibos said...

Okay, from a U.S. perspective, I just have to say that a 16-year-old cannot even sign a contract. In some states, 16-year-olds still have lots of restrictions placed on the kinds of jobs they can do and how many hours they are allowed to work. It doesn't seem to me like 16 is an ideal age to have a baby when one still has "minor status."

Now, were the U.S. to change its definition of a "minor" I might think differently, but as it stands, when at 16 you still have so many restrictions on your autonomy and earning potential - why is it a good time to have a baby?

The ex-expat said...

Earlgrey, because the state says that they can have sex. A natural consequence of having sex is babies natural consequence so some will become pregnant no matter how careful they are with birth control.

Psycho Milt said...

The 'right' time is "when you can afford to raise them," which tends to exclude teenagers. The planet isn't so short of humans that I feel a need to pay overgrown children to build more of them.

earlgreyrooibos said...

Psycho Milt-

My concern with your reasoning is that "being able to afford to have them" has the potential to exclude low-income adults. Should poor people be barred from having children just because it may be difficult for them to afford one?

Of course, there are lots of other issues to unpack when it comes to class and child rearing - like how lower-class couples tend to have more children and upper-class ones tend to have fewer children. I'm just saying that making it entirely an issue of money has the potential to exclude a lot of people from making reproductive choices.

earlgreyrooibos said...

Earlgrey, because the state says that they can have sex. A natural consequence of having sex is babies natural consequence so some will become pregnant no matter how careful they are with birth control.

Okay, I wasn't really thinking of it in terms of accidents. I was thinking of it more in a planning sense. I understand that accidents happen and that many teenagers will make the choice to continue an unintentended pregnancy for whatever reason.

When I wrote my comment, I was thinking in terms of a 16-year-old actually sitting down and planning out deliberately to have a baby. Yes, they have a choice because they're physically able of reproducing - but to decide to bring another life into the world when you're still technically dependent on your parents (assuming the children aren't legally emancipated) - that just seems like the "wrong time" to me.

I realize that my comments illustrate my cultural bias. I'm speaking here entirely of teenagers in the United States. I realize that ideas about adulthood, maturity, etc. are highly dependent on cultural context and I'm not attempting to speak for the entire world.

The ex-expat said...

Psycho I agree with you that people should be financially ready, but people forget about emotions as well. I'm reminded of this every time my cousin's kid and my partner's kid get together.

The cousin's kid was the child of teenage parents, mum was on the DPB for a few years so on paper has very little going for her. However the mother has made efforts to get back on her feet and the little girl is very well adjusted thanks to the maturity the mother showed in fostering strong relationships with the paternal extended family.

On the other hand my partner's daughter was born into wealthy educated parents who were about 30 when they had her. Due to their long-running parental conflict already has some psych issues. The parents are likely to be in and out of court over the coming years and she's likely to be needing some specialist educational help along the way. Guess who is likely to have a greater cost on the taxpayer?

Azlemed said...

Income is a big issue for having children, but some of us middle classes are having 3 or more children.

We were 26 when we had our first child, we decided that we didnt want to be too old to enjoy them, but we had also been together 7 years so it worked for us. my mum was 21 when she had me, its young by some standards but she left school at 16 and had worked etc so in some ways was more mature than some 25 year olds I know.

If one of my daugthers got pregnant under 18 we would help in any way, we would also support our son if he became a father at that age,

I like to think though that we will help them to make decisions that are best for them and teach them about contraception so they use it.

Pauline said...

Slightly off topic I hate the term "teen pregnancies" as if its some sort of orror story. its not taht long ago that most women were having their first babies at 18-19-ish . Women were often married by that point (or hurridly got married), so in my book its not necessarily the teen thing - its unprepared and unsupported (financially and emotionally) pregnancies which is the issues

Psycho Milt said...

Psycho Milt-

My concern with your reasoning is that "being able to afford to have them" has the potential to exclude low-income adults. Should poor people be barred from having children just because it may be difficult for them to afford one?


No. And we have an excellent social welfare system to cover most eventualities, and I'm happy to see my taxes help cover it. But if the question is "When is the 'right' time?" the answer is definitely not "While I'm still in school, because Milt doesn't mind paying for it."

Julie said...

Pauline, I agree about the "teen pregnancies" point you raise and I've been thinking the same thing about all this youf crime we seem to have lately too. If you're not an adult at 18 and 19 then that's news to me!

Anonymous said...

Pauline, What makes it amusing is that before the industrial revolution it was commonplace for woman to have children at around the age of 14, and it would have been even younger if malnutrition wasn't causing the onset of puberty to be be delayed

Lucy said...

Pauline, What makes it amusing is that before the industrial revolution it was commonplace for woman to have children at around the age of 14, and it would have been even younger if malnutrition wasn't causing the onset of puberty to be be delayed

It *happened*, but it certainly wasn't commonplace. AFAIK, the average age of marriage - which did correspond often to first child in Europe during the Renaissance and Early Modern period, at least among the lower classes, was in the mid-twenties. The pattern was that men and women left home, went and worked for a few years - often as domestic servants - and had children when they'd saved up enough to be married. Early childbirth, by this stage, was primarily among the very poor and very wealthy. Having kids at fourteen was a recipe for poverty as much then as today. Certainly people left home and worked as adults earlier, but that didn't mean they were all knocked up by sixteen by any means.